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Hospitals focus too much on resource utilization rather than the flow of patients

12 August, 2015

We all want to ensure that our resource utilization is optimized. The staff as well as the expensive equipment should be fully utilized. But without focusing on the flow of patients, which is the target at which all types of resources should be aimed, it is highly likely that resources will work in an unsynchronized fashion, and with the wrong things, resulting in long waiting times for the patients.
Oftentimes, the staff quickly realizes that it takes a long time to get all the required activities to take care of patients completely done. To compensate for this, they are working even harder, resulting in increased stress. But the problem is rarely that the people are not working hard enough. A mindset of resource utilization has often been built, where each unit within the hospital is working to optimize the use of its own resources, without seeing the big picture and the flow of patients.
In the health care sector, each hospital is divided into different areas of specialty, each with its own management and optimization of resources. This results in unnecessarily long waiting times for patients, while the staff feels insufficient and overstrained. The staff, instead of carrying out healthcare related activities, spend more time on administrative work, which requires additional administrative resources. This, in turn, creates a negative spiral.
Instead, many of the problems can be solved through simple actions by focusing on the flow of patients and the big picture in order to quickly and safely, after the initiation of appropriate therapy, send patients to the appropriate specialist unit within the hospital, or to send them home.